That’s what John Duddy and his brain trust have been doing in the run-up to Friday night’s ESPN2 blockbuster matchup between the Derry native and Rooney’s “Haitian Sensation,” Leonard Pierre, at the Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Conn.
All Rooney-trained boxers fight alike, the 8-0 (8 KOs) Duddy and his trainer Harry Keitt say. So by dissecting the peek-a-boo, bobbing, weaving, attacking style that made the then Rooney-drilled Tyson such a monster in the heavyweight division 20 years ago, they believe they’ll be able to solve Pierre.
“I’ve seen one of [Pierre’s] fights and he looks like a very strong, durable guy with gloves held high and a bobbing, weaving, coming forward style,” Duddy said last week. “I’ll have to give him angles and box him.”
Said Keitt, who had a big say in sanctioning Pierre as an opponent: “Kevin trains everyone the same way and one style doesn’t fit all. When John beats this guy, it will be impossible to get him [Duddy] another fight.
“It’s a good fight on paper, but we’ll get the job done. A lot of people will be there and they’ll see the real John Duddy. He’s in tip-top shape.”
Although this kind of fight between two young unbeaten prospects with great knockout power defies boxing convention — safety first always being the rule when building up a boxer — Duddy said it was the kind of match he’s wanted all along.
“I’ve been looking for this kind of challenge for a few months now and I’m ready to rock and roll,” Duddy said. “My coaches and I wouldn’t have taken it if I felt I wasn’t ready for it.
“I’m just excited and ready to make the step up and show [everyone] my talents.”
Duddy promoter Eddie McLoughlin predicted that Pierre, who’s 25, wouldn’t get past the third round in the scheduled six-rounder.
“He’s locked and loaded for the fight of his life,” the Irish Ropes Promotions owner said of his charge. “This won’t be as problematic a fight as the [Glen] Dunning fight in Brooklyn,” noted McLoughlin, referring to Duddy’s fifth-round KO of the elusive southpaw from Ohio last December.
“[Pierre’s] defense is his offense. He has a tendency of sticking his head out over his gloves and when he does that, he’ll playing into John’s hands. I can’t see him getting out of the first half.”
The 25-year-old Duddy, who turned pro in September 2003, hopes that his clash with the Catskill-based Pierre will be the highlight of the sold-out show billed as “A Night of the Irish.”
Duddy’s father, Mickey, a former pro and sparring partner of Barry McGuigan, Ken Buchanan and Charlie Nash’s, is scheduled in from Derry this week for the fight.
He’ll join hordes of Irish fans from Boston and tri-state area for the event, whose other Celtic participants will be County Clare’s Clancy brothers James and Mark, who face heavyweight Harold Rodriguez and cruiserweight Joe Lorenzi, respectively.
“It will be a memorable night for Irish boxing,” Duddy said.
Tickets, priced at $75, $60, and $35, are available from the Foxwoods box office at 1 (800) 200-2882 or online at www.foxwoods.com.